The Chairman of Presidential Advisory Committee against Corruption, Itse Sagay, on Monday said Nigerians have a lot to be grateful for in electing Muhammadu Buhari their president last year.
“If Buhari had not come, I don’t think there would have been a country,” Mr. Sagay said. “Zimbabwe would have been better.”
Mr. Sagay’s opinion was contained in a statement he delivered at an event held to appraise the one year since the creation of his committee.
After making recommendations that he believed could improve the fight against corruption, Mr. Sagay used the rest of his speech to paint the gloomiest picture of Nigeria if the then ruling party, PDP, had remained in power for another year.
Mr. Sagay said corruption was so pervasive under successive PDP administrations that judges allegedly allowed themselves to become a rubber stamp for electoral malpractice.
The law professor and strong ally of Mr. Buhari said such vices, and others similar to them, were responsible for the prevailing level of mediocrity in governance.
“We know of some governors who are not supposed to be there, but found themselves on the bloody seats with the help of some judges,” Mr. Sagay said.
But PDP spokesman, Dayo Adeyeye, said Mr. Sagay’s comments constitute an embarrassment to him and his legal profession.
“Itse Sagay is someone who is widely known to make statements that embarrass not only himself but the legal profession he purports to represent,” Mr. Adeyeye told PREMIUM TIMES Monday afternoon.
“This is because Nigerians know that the country would have been far better than now were PDP still in power,” Mr. Adeyeye said. “He is defending a man who plunged Nigeria’s economy into recession within one year.”
“He calls himself an academic who knows the rule of law and he’s supporting actions that portend grave danger for the country and they’re running Nigeria like a jungle,” Mr. Adeyeye said.
Mr. Sagay also weighed in on the recent crackdown on judges by the State Security Service, suggesting that such measures were necessary to bring about a robust and dignified judiciary.
“We need the judiciary, but we need an upright judiciary. If we don’t have a judiciary with moral integrity, then we don’t have a democracy.
“No agency would have dared to arrest (Charles) Oputa, (Andrews) Obaseki, (Kayode) Eso, and some others. They gave judgments against the military governments. The moral authority of the golden era of the Supreme Court has crashed,” Mr. Sagay said.
Mr. Sagay’s committee recommended a plea bargaining mechanism as an efficient alternative means of settling corruption cases.